European Chemistry Congress: Jó napot kívánok


Jó napot kívánok from Budapest, where the European chemistry community has decided to get together in the first ever European Chemistry Congress. The scale of the thing is impressive for it being a first: 2,500 registrants from 65 countries and an abstracts book the size of a phone book (do they still make those?).

Before the official start, I sat down with organizer Gábor Náray-Szabó, and asked him the obvious question: is this conference a challenge to the American Chemical Society meeting, that twice-annual mass migration of chemists?

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“They do it very well,” says Náray-Szabó. “We don’t have to fight. But we can show that we can do something like that.”

Náray-Szabó says that the time seemed ripe for European chemists to come together. The meeting has been taking shape for the last several years, but a turning point, he says, is when Jean-Marie Lehn signed on to give a plenary talk and help develop the programme. More Nobel laureates followed. Right now, Náray-Szabó is confident of the congresses success, and it looks like others chare his confidence. The Societá Chimica Italiana will host the next one in Torino in 2008. I withhold my vote until after the opening reception. Will there be adequate nibbly things and drinks? Will the chatter be lively?

Right now, the exhibitors are setting up, and everywhere knots of people are huddled, pouring over the dense program. Young people in pale blue polo shirts are registering people at a furious pace, and the Eötvös Loránd University chemistry building, on the bank of the Danube, smells strongly of newly printed programs. If only one could absorb all the presentations just by breathing in that inky smell!

[reprinted from the Nature Newsblog – see all reports from the congress here:]

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